Loveboat, Taipei || unpopular opinion alert!

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Genre: Contemporary
Category: Young Adult
Series info: Standalone

Goodreads

There’s been a lot of talk about this book since before it’s release. Bloggers who were lucky enough to get an ARC of this praised it a lot. The word got out pretty well, and tons of people got to reading it.

Everything I heard about this book was good. It was only positive. And that’s the reason why I expected it to be really good. I did not expect for it have elements that I really dislike.

But I did.

THE PLOT

Ever is a first generation Chinese-American. And like all Asian parents, they have high dreams for Ever. She’s expected to become a doctor.

But all Ever wants to do is dance. She loves to dance and choreograph dance routines. Her dream is to get into NYU Tisch School of Arts.

During the summer after high school, when she had plans of dancing and other things, her parents suddenly send her to Taipei for a summer programs. They want her to know her culture and learn Mandarin.

But the program nicknamed “Loveboat” is much more than a clean summer program to learn things. And this summer is going to shape Ever’s life in ways she never expected.

MY REVIEW

Let’s do this review in list format because I have MANY POINTS.

WHAT I LIKED:

  • Asian-American life representation.

Life is a lot like that even in Asian countries. Parents sacrifice SO MUCH that us only thinking about doing what makes us happy is almost a crime. I’m literally an engineering student in college and not doing literature because of my parents.

It’s so normal for us. And I love how it’s represented accurately, describing how it is for the kids AND the parents.

  • Complex relationships.

There were so many relationships shown that had layers to them. Between Ever and her romantic interest. Ever and her parents. Ever and her roommate.

There were even second-hand mentions of relationships not explicitly shown in the book. I loved reading all of it because it’s how life is. And the author managed to show just how many different complex relationships exist for just one person.

  • What it’s like to be Asian in America.

As the summer program is full of Asian kids living in other countries, we got a few bits of proper focus on how life is for them. The way they are treated, the almost-normal racist comments. It hit hard, but I feel good knowing that non-Asian readers will understand what it’s like.

  • Dreams and sacrfices.

We know that how we are brought up affects us a lot. It shapes our self-worth, our attitude towards life, and our ambitions and goals. This book really showcased the different types of lives and how parents really affect children.

  • Supporting characters had significance too.

Every supporting character we saw had dreams and goals. They had desires in life. The author showcased so many different scenarios through them. This one group of guys just went around breaking Asian stereotypes and I LOVED IT. Huge points for these things.

  • Character growth.

There was so much of it! Characters learned through mistakes, learnt new things, started having different outlooks and became better people by the end. That was lovely to watch.

What I did not like:

  • The middle of the book was dull and uninteresting.

The beginning started off strong. The ending was good. But damn the middle was annoying.

After Ever got to the program, it became all about teenage rebellion and boy crazy thoughts. It felt like a full one eighty from the first few chapters.

It got me so disinterested in the book that I PAUSED listening to it as an audiobook. In order to make myself finish the book, I had to pick it up as an ebook after a week.

This alone ruined the experience for me.

OVERALL

Other than the random boy-crazy rebelling stuff in the middle which threw the entire book off for me, it was really good.

I recommend this book for the Asian-American representation, complex relationships, and character growth.

But if you don’t like ANY of boy crazy random things, you won’t like it much like me.

I rate this book…

3/5 stars

Becoming || inspires hope for change

becoming book cover

Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Genre: Autobiography

Goodreads

Becoming, since it’s release, has been praised to the stars by just about everyone. All the readers I follow posted about it, and it was my book club’s pick sometime last year. I didn’t have the time to read it then, though. I finally picked up the book in November, but did not have the time or patience for a non-fiction.

In order to motivate myself to finish it this year, I chose Becoming as the book for a prompt in the Popsugar Reading Challenge and also included it in #StartOnYouRShelfathon. And it worked! I finished the book as my second read of the year. We’re off to a good start.

MY REVIEW

Once I was actually in the mood to read this book, which was so a few days back, I couldn’t stop reading it. Although it’s an autobiography, Michelle Obama’s life has been very interesting that it almost feels as if I’m reading fiction. She has written her story so beautifully, showing how she was brought up and what made her into who she is today.

Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.

Becoming is a brilliant book that sends a message of hope, change, and power in resilience. It was inspiring and motivating.

How Michelle Obama was portrayed in the media is such a contrast to how she is in the book. She, along with her husband and family, are humanized and broken down to the small quirks that makes them. She speaks about her struggles, her fears, and her weakness plainly. There was no hiding, but instead she owned every part of her story.

In my opinion, a major reason that this book resonates with people across the world is how Michelle openly talks about her struggles which many others are going through as well. She talks about the struggles of being a woman, being Black in a predominantly White country, being a woman in male-dominated field, being a working mother, and being the wife to a politician.

Confidence, I’d learned then, sometimes needs to be called from within. I’ve repeated the same words to myself many times now, through many climbs.

Am I good enough? Yes I am.

It was wonderful to read her thoughts and feelings on everything, especially the negative ones. In the end, she overcame all of that and stood strong. Michelle Obama learned how to adapt and use her resources to help other people. She recognizes all her privileges, from the people in her life to the power she has, and works to make changes in the US.

Through Michelle Obama, we also get insight into Barack Obama as more than the former US President. We see him as a passionate person, a fact-guy, as a husband, and as a father. It was interesting to see their relationship from the start and the issues they went through as he climbed the political ladder.

The choice, as he saw it, was this: You give up or you work for change. “What’s better for us?” Barack called to the people gathered in the room. “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”

I was most curious to read about the Obama family’s time in the White House and I was not disappointed. A major portion of the book took place during those 8 years, and Michelle spoke about everything. We read about the staff, the rooms, and multiple small quirks of living there. Their life changed drastically the day Barack Obama became the President-Elect, and Michelle showed the overwhelming changes in the book.

Being the First Lady is very much different to being the President. The role doesn’t have all the hard power of the President, nor does it give the platform to talk about the same issues. But being First Lady does give power due to the image. Reading about Michelle Obama’s journey in the role was intriguing and inspiring.

A First Lady’s power is a curious thing—as soft and undefined as the role itself. And yet I was learning to harness it.

One thing that Michelle Obama counted on for several years was the support from her girl friends. The power of female friendships is not spoken about much, in fiction or non-fiction, and it was really nice to see Michelle talk about it multiple times.

OVERALL

I should stop talking because there is SO MUCH in the book that I loved and several more quotes that I want to add. I can probably talk for an hour about this book.

But all I’ll say is, read this book if you haven’t yet. It’s a wonderful and inspiring story that drives home one thing: you are worth it, you can make changes in this world as well.

There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.

Michelle Obama

I rate this book..

5/5 stars

Have you read Becoming? Do you have favourite quotes from the book?

The Gilded Wolves || full of adventure

Title: The Gilded Wolves
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Fantasy
Category: Young Adult
Series info: Book 1 in The Gilded Wolves series

Goodreads

Even though I haven’t read much Young Adult this year, I still notice the popular books and trends. One of the books which has been HYPED UP is The Gilded Wolves. Almost everyone was talking about it. Especially since it involves a diverse set of characters, the praise was high.

So when I got the mood to read a YA book, this was the first one that I picked.

SYNOPSIS

The book is set in France, 1889. But we don’t really see the mundane France. Right from the beginning, we’re introduced to the new concept of “Forging” and the hidden Fantasy world.

In this hidden world lies The Order, and the Four Houses that protect the art of Forging. Severin, the last heir of one of the houses, was denied of his birthright as patriarch of the house years back. Ever since, he has been on the path of revenge, and his only mission is to be instated with his birthright.

Over the years, he has brought together a band of people to work with him. Laila, the dancer from India with her own mission. Enrique, a well-read historian looking to be recognized. Zofia, a very smart engineer with a debt. And Tristan, Severin’s brother in everything except blood.

Right as Severin’s dream is close enough to reach for, things go awry and the group is thrust into a mission they didn’t sign up for. Together, they discover hidden truths and learnt what it truly means to be family.

MY REVIEW

First of all, this book reminded me why I loved the Fantasy genre. It has been so long since I read a Fantasy book, and reading this was like breathing fresh air. It was wonderful.

The plot is very captivating. We are taken on an adventure through this book. An adventure with a denied birthright, Forging, mystery, manipulation, secrets, betrayal and magical objects. Basically everything you want in a great Fantasy book.

The writing was very descriptive. We are given details about everything, especially the history in this world. At times, I found the descriptions and background information too much. Yes they’re planning something and are researching a lot for it, but there was way too much unnecessary information for me to read through with concentration. That could have been reduced.

Even though the plot was really good, what really made the book great were the characters. The characters were brilliant. They were each unique and fully-fledged i.e. with depth and layers. Every character was endearing in their own way. They are precious.

There was also enough highlight on each of them. I never felt like we saw more of one or two and less of the others. They were all equally the main characters of this book.

The found family trope was executed beautifully. The relationships between the characters, and what the relationships mean to them, was shows really well. The interactions were very fun to read as well, and didn’t feel like an overkill.*

*cough Aurora Rising cough

Many readers have compared this book to Six of Crows. While I do see the similarities—with the plot type and character relationships—I still think that they are entirely separate books. They have similar concepts but each with their own spin and meaning to it.

OVERALL

I’m very happy with this book. I absolutely loved reading about the characters going on their dangerous adventures together. It also brought back some of my love of YA Fantasy.

Would recommend especially: if you’re looking for a book with the found family trope, with a very Fantasy-world, and adventure.

I rate this book..

4/5 stars

Have you read The Gilded Wolves? Do you like the Fantasy genre?

My First First Love // Kdrama review

A coming-of-age Korean drama featuring young adults chasing their dreams and finding love.

When My First First Love was released on Netflix, it was heavily advertised and pushed on almost everyone’s feed. There were so many people watching it and commenting on it.

WHAT IS THE DRAMA ABOUT?

The drama primarily follows 5 people who are stepping into their adult lives.

Yun Tae-o has been living independently in his grandfather’s house, and enjoys the life of a bachelor. One day three of his friends, end up crashing in his place and ask that he allow them to stay for a while. Unable to say no to them, he reluctantly agrees for the time-being.

The three friends include: Han Song-i, Tae-o’s best friend and his old crush; O Ga-rin, a very old friend whom Tae-o hasn’t spoken to in years; and Choe Hun, Tae-o’s close friend from school.

The last main character is So Do-hyeon, Tae-o’s closest friend in college.

The drama follows these characters as they find themselves, chase their dreams and fall in love.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE DRAMA

I started the drama only after Netflix released both seasons. While marketed as two seasons, the drama is like any other with 16 episodes. In fact, there wasn’t even a cliffhanger or a break in between the seasons. The plot flowed through continuously. I assume it was split just as a strategy, and nothing to do with the plot of the drama.

all the characters of the drama

My First First Love is a wholly character-driven drama. We don’t have a very specific plot going on, other than following the ups and downs of the main characters.

The lack of any specific plot-line means that there’s no true point to the Kdrama, which annoyed me. I binged all 16 episodes in a short span of days, and the drama didn’t leave much of an impression on me. It’s quite underwhelming.

The drama is very slow-paced. I’m not someone who is good with slow paces, so this was another negative for me. The drama had 16 episodes, but the content of the drama was very little. In the end, I was just wondering how they managed to buff it up to 16 episodes because the content was not much.

my first first love characters hanging out

What makes the drama actually fun to watch were all the hilarious moments peppered in. Since the drama is slow paced, there’s enough room for funny scenes to make the viewers laugh. It was nice to watch the interactions between the characters with them dissing each other or acting like kids.

Coming to the romances, there is quite a few of it in the drama. The main romance plot contained a love triangle. Now, I’m not a fan of love triangles AT ALL but I can admit that it was done well here. The love triangle became cumbersome afterwards though, because it was dragged on for longer than necessary.

Choe Hun and O Ga Rin

My favourite was the romance between Choe Hun and O Ga-rin. It was super cute and pure. I absolutely loved watching them fall in love and continue to support each other through the drama.

Since the drama is basically about the characters, let’s move on to talking about them.

THE CHARACTERS

yun tae-o

Yun Tae-o is the son of a wealthy real-estate owner. Nicknamed famously as “The First Love” by girls in his college, Tae-o is known for his boy-ish charm. He has tons of friends, is always upbeat and carries around a positive energy.

Tae-o was my favourite in the beginning, simply because he is very charming. But as the drama went on and I started critically analyzing the characters, Tae-o fell short.

Considering that this drama’s only point is the characters, they could have worked more on crafting them. Tae-o had no depth, and no layers like a normal person would. He was very surface-level, with his crushes and antics. He didn’t have a dream or a passion, and made no effort to find one.

Season 2 did a little better on fledging Tae-o’s character, but it still fell short compared to other characters.

Han Song-i

Han Song-i is an architecture student in college. After her father died her mother ran away leaving Song-i alone. When her house is foreclosed, Song-i is forced to seek Tae-o’s help.

Throughout the drama, Song-i is featured more than the others. It clearly felt like she was given more thought to during creation of the drama than other characters. We talk about her past, her relationships, her feelings, and even see quite a bit of her journey as an architecture student.

Song-i was definitely nice to follow, but personally I was disappointed that the other characters weren’t given as much attention as her.

Choe Hun

Choe Hun is a dreamer. Coming from a wealthy family who want him to choose a sensible career, he breaks the chain and chooses to pursue becoming a musical actor.

We see his struggles with auditions and his family’s reaction to his dreams through the drama. It was really nice to see a character whole-heartedly pursuing his dreams no matter what is thrown in his way, or how much people discourage him. It was quite inspiring.

O Ga-rin

O Ga-rin had the best plot in the show, in my opinion. Her mother is very protective, and coddles Ga-rin to the point that Ga-rin has no freedom. In order to live her life and find her passion, Ga-rin escapes from her mother and seeks asylum at Tae-o’s home.

As the show progresses, we watch as Ga-rin learns how people live and interact in the world, and tastes new food! Since she has lived away from people and normalcy all her life, it takes her quite some time to learn how to live with everyone else. I found that process very endearing.

As Ga-rin learns about new things, she also exposes herself to many possible dreams. I really liked her plot, especially in season 2, and how the drama ended for her.

Seo Do-hyeon

Seo Do-hyeon, Tae-o’s friend from college, is a serious person. He is nicknamed as the dependable “Last Love” by girls in college. Do-hyeon cares about academics and setting up for a dependable career than dating or goofing around like other college students.

Do-hyeon was hard to understand, as the show progressed. There was so much potential to him, with his layers and ambitions, but he was under-developed. Justice wasn’t done to his character, which was really disappointing. At some points, it felt like his character existed just to add plot and complexity to other characters’ lives.

THE MUSIC

The soundtrack throughout the drama was one of the highlights, for me. During some scenes, I cared more about the music than what was going on with the characters. Whoever was in charge of the music for the drama really nailed it.

The following are my favourite songs from the soundtrack.

I especially love the last song above. It makes me upbeat and feel like I can handle anything in life.

I’ve only shared 4 songs, but the whole OST is great.

OVERALL

The drama did well on portraying young adults and their struggles with hopes and dreams, while also dealing with emotions and relationships. It’s not a drama that I would rewatch because it’s not up my street, but I can see how it can be liked by many others.

It’s a good drama to chill and watch, or even binge when you’re in the mood for something light-hearted. There are places where the drama fell short, but it’s a good watch if you’re not looking for an engrossing plot.

Have you seen My First First Love? Do you prefer chill shows to watch or ones with captivating plots?

Christmas Jars // movie review + GIVEAWAY

Christmas Jars Blog Tour banner

Christmas time means watching tons of Christmas movies.

By now, I’ve watched quite a few Christmas movies and I have to say, they make you feel good. Cozying up in blankets with a hot drink or just watching when it’s all gloomy outside and watching a Christmas movie has a charm of it’s own.

When I got the chance to participate in the blog tour for Christmas Jars, I jumped on the chance. It sounded really nice and cute.

Christmas Jars poster

Based on the New York Times best- selling novel by Jason F. Wright

Hope is an aspiring reporter who has had her fair share of tragedy in life. Abandoned at birth, she’s grieving the recent death of her adopted mother when her apartment is burglarized of all her possessions. While reporting the burglary to the police, Hope discovers a jar full of money, labeled “Christmas Jar.” Shocked and grateful for this act of kindness, Hope discovers that people all over her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, have been receiving Christmas Jars for years during times of need. The jars are always anonymous and always contain different amounts. In this heartwarming Christmas classic, Hope goes undercover to discover the secret behind the Christmas jars, putting into motion a series of events that will change her life, and her community, forever.

Movie Trailer
Buy links: Deseret Book | Amazon.com

Christmas Jars has all the Christmas-movie things down to a T. It’s cozy, cheesy, funny and has a happy ending. What more do you need? The movie is perfect for a Christmas pick.

I watched the movie with a few of my friends because I thought it would be fun to watch as a group, and I was right. While I would have enjoyed the movie alone as well, it was super fun to watch with others. Even though my friends and I are quite critical about plots and don’t like cheesy/cliché things, we enjoyed the movie.

The plot was really nice. Hope, our main character, was anonymously given a Christmas Jar full of money at a bad time in her life. After finding out that many others have been gifted at rough times as well, she vows to find out who these generous gifters are. This search completely changes her life.

As the movie starts with Hope as a newborn, the timeline is pretty straightforward. There’s no jumping in time or confusion as you watch the movie. If you’ve watched a lot of movies, then you can also probably guess what’s going to happen next. To me, the twist was very predictable, but I still enjoyed the movie.* It’s a clean plot, so you can just sit back and enjoy.

*I went a little extra critical and found two plot holes too but it’s a Christmassy feel-good movie and you should not question things.

The best part of the plot was that it all comes full circle. I really liked that. I like when movies can connect things from beginning to end, and that happened here. Personally, that’s a fave so a big plus from me.

The one thing that I really appreciate about the movie is that it leaves you hopeful. By the end of the movie, you’re happy. The story makes you believe that there are good people and restores your faith about kindness and giving. Not only that, it also shows how just a little bit of help from someone, who goes out of their way to help you and believes that you’re worth it, motivates you to fight back harder. The message of the movie was really nice.

As for the romance, since it’s not the main plot, it’s barely there. The romance was nice but it was very cheesy and cliché. It was over the top for me, so I didn’t like it much. But I do think that it’s perfect for Christmas movie lovers.

OVERALL

I quite liked it. Would have watched it on my own even without the blog tour. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a new Christmas movie to watch. It’s also appropriate for all ages, so it’s a good one to watch with family or just with friends.

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you like watching Christmas movies? Which one is your favourite?

blogmas 2019 header image

Let's Chat // Spotify Wrapper, YouTube Rewind, New Music by Halsey, Taylor Swift

Y’all, it’s been an eventful week online.

I was wondering how to talk about everything, whether to make separate posts or include them in a life update. But then, I just figured I can make a chatty post about them all together.


SPOTIFY WRAPPED

First of all, twitter has been waiting for Spotify Wrapped for at least a week prior. I’ve seen so many memes about their Wrapped predictions, such as break-up albums and totally wack music tastes. Some tweets were quite funny and relatable. So, I started anticipating my Spotify Wrapped as well.

Since Spotify released only this year in India, there’s not much data for my account. Truthfully, I used Spotify a little bit using fake VPNs but it never lasted long. I was tired of the fake VPNs haha. It’s not much data, though.

I have to say, Spotify doesn’t have every song so during the last two months I’ve switched to using YouTube for music. Especially since I listen to a lot of songs from Kdrama OSTs, and Spanish TV shows, which aren’t available on Spotify.

Anyway!

Everyone got their Spotify Wrapped stories and playlists a few days back, and it’s HYPED. I see so many people sharing their stats online, and showing off their music tastes.

My Top Artist was BTS. With my favourite BTS song being Dionysus. Is there any surprise? I think not. Ever since I became an ARMY, I somehow always am listening to BTS songs. Be it old or new, there is always a BTS song to fit my current mood.

spotify wrapped 2019 top 5 artists

After BTS, my top artists were Taylor Swift, 5 Seconds of Summer, Diplo and Sia. I am surprised Diplo came into the list, though. I didn’t listen to much of his music this year.

music that defined my decade

Even though there isn’t much data on my account from 2017 and 2018, this is pretty accurate of my music tastes back then. 2017 was the year I discovered Oh Wonder, and I was OBSESSED with their music. In 2018, I was all into music from the Shadowhunters TV show, which led me to Fleurie‘s music. Until today, Hurricane is my favourite song by her.

There were some solid great songs that I listened to in 2019, and I’m sure I’ll love that they’re all in one playlist for me to listen again later.

I have to give props to Spotify. I loved the presentation. I saw my Wrapped on both the app and on the desktop website. I loved the web version even more. The presentation style, UI, music, and everything was put together in a really good sequence. The calls to action to tweet artists and share your stories was put in very appropriate places as well.


YouTube Rewind 2019

Yo.. YouTube didn’t even try this time.

We know that Rewind 2017 was bad. Rewind 2018 was cringey as heck, didn’t include people we actually liked, and was a mashup of weird and random things. It became the most disliked video on YouTube.

I don’t think I was alone when I forgot about YouTube Rewind completely. There was no one who actually looked forward to this year’s rewind. We didn’t care, and we didn’t have expectations. But, it is possible to be disappointed even when you didn’t expect anything.

This year’s rewind was basically statistics. It felt very impersonal, looked like it was made in a rush in the last 2 days, and as if the rewind team had no budget for production at all. I understand having no budget, because they sucked last year and YouTube probably doesn’t want to shell out cash for another failure. But. Some effort wouldn’t have killed them.

shaking head gif

The video mostly consisted of top 10s, which is stupid. We don’t watch Rewinds for that. That was never the purpose of it. Another stupid part was adding in random videos in increasing order of likes, which included what they thought were the “trends” of 2019. Highly inaccurate, if you ask me.

To try and “make the video better”, they added in some highly liked music as tracks. Newsflash: a video isn’t made great just by playing popular music in the background.

I was confused through it all. Okay, some videos were most liked, and I may not be very active in the trends, but there were random ass videos and people. They don’t define YouTube 2019, even if they got a ton of likes. It’s like YouTube has completely forgotten what Rewind was even for.*

can we ask why gif

This year’s Rewind screams lazy lazy LAZY. Even the intro and outro screams zero effort. I was so bored through it all, I kept skipping forward to see if anything was worth it. Spoiler: nope. I honestly won’t be surprised if YouTube Rewind gets cancelled next year. I’d prefer it. I’m sure many would forget about the existence of Rewind soon enough, including myself. The new decade could start by leaving YouTube Rewind behind.

*Or, my theory is that they fired all the good team members after and now Rewind has gone to shit. Or maybe those members quit YouTube one by one because they hate working there. And now the team left has no vision.

The very small pros of Rewind 2019, but only because I’m comparing it to the absolute disaster called Rewind 2018:

  • They acknowledged the disaster called Rewind 2018.
  • They mentioned that we know better (but also clearly did not care to TALK to some viewers and find out what to do)
  • They acknowledged PewDiePie’s existence. I mean, it’s stats of top 10s so it’s hard not to, but still.
  • They acknowledged BTS. Again, kinda hard since it’s stats. But since we know that they deleted tons of views from BTS’s music videos, ARMYs need much more than this to forgive YouTube.

Christmas Tree Farm by Taylor Swift

I pop in online after a long and great day with friends, to see that Taylor just dropped a new song? Halsey dropped two songs as well, but more on that later. What a day!

First of all, Taylor has been doing really well this year. Especially with everything thrown in her her. She’s coming out the winner and is an absolute queen. I used to only listen to some of her music, and wasn’t a huge fan. But this year has made me a Swiftie.

Christmas Tree Farm is such a nice song! I absolutely love the vibes. The video was really cool, there’s jingle bells and Christmas cheer in the background of her song. The song also doesn’t sound like her recent music, but I love it. It’s a happy song, and spreads happy vibes. It’s perfect for Christmas.


Halsey’s New Music

Halsey shared her next album’s tracklist on her Instagram recently, and it hyped us all up for it. All the ARMYs, including myself, became super excited to hear SUGA’s Interlude, which is a collab between Halsey and SUGA from BTS. SUGA does awesome collaborations, so I was looking forward to it.

And then, Halsey just dropped two songs yesterday! One was SUGA’s Interlude (heck yes!!!!) and another was Finally // beautiful stranger.

SUGA’s Interlude

The opening chords are signature SUGA. The sounds, the vibes, is totally SUGA’s style. We can hear it right from the beginning. I have to say, I don’t think Halsey’s voice is perfect for this song. I can imagine it better with a softer voice, because Halsey has a pretty strong voice.

Also, the song is really short. It’s over in no time. There aren’t much lyrics to it anyway. Halsey’s lines are just repeats. I liked the lyrics, though. The meaning is nice.

Overall, it’s okay. I really like the instrumentals, and will probably listen to the instrumental version a lot. But the song isn’t something that I would listen to on repeat. The tones are perfect for SUGA’s rap, but not Halsey’s voice.

Finally // beautiful stranger

I. LOVE. THIS.

The vibe is PERFECT for Halsey’s voice. I really like the sound of it. The tones, and the guitar is so good with her voice. Her singing style could not be better for it. I think she did wonderful with this song. I really like the lyrics as well.

I can totally see myself listening to this on repeat. The vibes are perfect for evening bus rides, chill blogging time when it’s raining outside, or just to listen to with a coffee while looking out the window.


Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest


LET’S CHAT!

That’s it for what I thought of all the updates this week. What about you? What are your thoughts on you Wrapped? And on Rewind 2019? Any new music which you love?

Heads You Win || highly captivating read

heads you win cover page

Title: Heads You Win
Author: Jeffrey Archer
Genre: Fiction
Series info: Standalone book

Goodreads

I’m a HUGE fan of Jeffrey Archer’s books. Back when I frequented the library near me, I took the opportunity to gorge on every Archer novel that they had. (Except short stories, because I don’t like short stories haha) And I loved every single one of them. My favourite Archer book is Kane and Abel, which was brilliant.

When I saw Heads You Win on sale on Flipkart recently, with an unbelievable discount, I grabbed it immediately. The synopsis didn’t matter to me, but it did make me more excited to read the book.

SYNOPSIS

Heads You Win starts in Leningrad, Russia with our main character Alex Karpenko. Alex is a young boy in school with high ambitions. When his father is murdered by the KGB for forming a worker’s union, Alex and his mother flee Russia in a ship with the help of Alex’s uncle. When they are about to flee, they’re given the option of hiding in the ship to USA or Britain. Alex flips a coin, which makes the decision for them.

As the reader, we don’t know what the coin chose. From the time Alex flips the coin, we follow both paths. We get to see what Alex’s life would be like if they went to Britain, and if they went to USA. And in each path, Alex and his mother wonder multiple times what would have happened if they chose to go into the other ship’s crate.

The book spans thirty years, and follows both lives of Alex. But which is the real one? Is there a winner?

MY REVIEW

The book was very captivating. Once I started the book, I oblivious to my surroundings. Even my mum laughed at just how out of it was while reading. Right from the first sentence, the book caught me in it’s world and didn’t let go. After a very long, I finished a general fiction book very fast. I read it in two sittings.

Jeffrey Archer’s writing has always made his books great for me. No matter the characters or the plot, he manages to grab my attention. This book was a little extra special because we get almost two different stories, and both are good enough to have a book of their own. Archer weaves two very interesting lives with politics, family, intrigue and plot twists.

The book showed the USA life as “Alex” and the Britain life as “Sasha”, just so the readers can understand which alternate life we’re reading about. Both Alex and Sasha’s lives were thrilling to read. It was interesting to read how the same person’s life turns out when they’re given different opportunities. The most interesting part was the end. After thirty years, how different are their lives? And is Alex’s biggest ambition the same no matter what life he leads?

As a reader, you can either simply enjoy the book and it’s thrilling plot, or you can wonder about hidden meanings. Until I finished the book, I simply enjoyed it. But after turning the last page, all I could think about was the hidden meaning. Does your entire fate depend on a single choice? Will it vary very much, or will you flourish the same either way? Will your life end differently based on that one choice?

While the plots were really good, I was intrigued about how the book will end very early. As the book progressed, all I could think about was “which life is the real one?” That was my burning question. I had huge expectations for the end.

But, the ending sorely disappointed me. Until the last two chapters, I kept the two lives straight and wasn’t confused. But the last two chapters threw everything out the window and confused me. It was badly written, and almost as if the intention was to mess with us. I had to read the last part THRICE. And even after that, I’m unclear about what exactly happened.

I’m not alone in the confusion, because I went onto Goodreads and found that everyone is in the same boat as me. The ending ruined the whole book. It was the one thing that I looked forward to and because it messed everything up, it ruined my experience with the book.

And as to my burning question? It wasn’t answered. The book’s title points to the fact that whatever “heads” pointed to, is the real one. But we’re never told which is heads and which is tails.

OVERALL

I’m not sure if I’m glad I read the book, or if I regret it.

Pros:

  • I love it when a book makes me think and wonder for days after I finish it.
  • The storylines were thrilling and I loved reading them.
  • The ending opens up discussion, even if it was bad. It does have a meaning.

Cons:

  • The ending was SO BAD!
  • Kinda feels like the author wasn’t sure what to do, and just wrote a random ending.
  • The book leaves you with a bad experience, just because of the last two chapters.

Would recommend: if you want an engaging read which will make you question and wonder things. Also if you won’t be too bothered with a badly written ending.

Would not recommend: if a book’s ending means a lot to you, and your reading experience.

I rate this book..

3/5 stars

If you had to choose: the plot or the ending? Which matters more to you?

The Knight Before Christmas // Movie Review

My Netflix recommendations are FILLED with Christmas movies.

Christmas is right around the corner, and no matter where I go online, I see Christmas-related content. It’s really nice to see the cheer and happiness spreading around. And the same can be said for streaming services. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of people will be watching Christmas-themed content, and probably binge-watch Harry Potter movies again because they have THE BEST Christmas-time vibes.

So I thought, why not jump in on the wagon and try a Christmas movie. I also had zero patience to spend time looking for a good movie, and just pressed play on what Netflix recommended me. And, because the movie released very recently, I happened to watch The Knight Before Christmas.

But before getting onto the review, what is up with Vanessa Hudgens and Netflix Christmas movies? She was in The Princess Switch last year as well. I never watched that because it looked super cringey and my trusted friends did not like it.

The reason I gave The Knight Before Christmas a go was because I actually liked the trailer. A dashing male lead, time travel and all the cozy Christmas vibes? Sign me up!

the knight before christmas cole
The Knight Before Christmas – Josh Whitehouse – Photo Credit: Netflix / Brooke Palmer

What was the movie about?

A 14th century knight named Cole is transported to 2019 Christmastime by a magical old woman. She said that he has to complete his “quest” by midnight on Christmas Day if he wants to be a true knight, because apparently you can only be a true knight if you fulfill your great quest. What is his quest, you might ask? He doesn’t know!

Not gonna lie, the quest thing really had me questioning. How are knights supposed to fulfill quests and become true knights if they don’t know their quests? They just keep waiting? Makes no sense.

So anyway, back to the plot. Cole is in 2019 Ohio, in his knight armour. Cole wanders around looking for the old woman, and is super confused about his current surroundings.

Brooke, a high school teacher and non-believer in true love, takes Cole in after accidentally hitting him with her car. She believes that he may have temporarily lost his memory due to which he “thinks” he’s a 14th century knight. Brooke offers her guesthouse to him for the time being.

Love story ensues.

the knight before christmas cole and brooke
Image credit: Brooke Palmer/Netflix

So.. was the movie good?

It depends on what you’re expecting.

If you want a movie with a really good plot, great chemistry, good acting, and thought out details, this not the movie for you. You will hate it.

If you’re looking for a random Christmas movie to watch while being cozy with a hot drink and don’t care what it contains as long as it ends well, this is the one for you.

I watched the movie simply to watch a Christmas movie so I wasn’t very disappointed, especially considering that I haven’t seen many other such movies to compare with. Sure, if I was expecting a really good movie with a great romance, I’d be disappointed. I would have also noted and obsessed over details, but I decided to let it go. Normally, I’m a huge critic but since I didn’t expect much, I’m not really bothered.

My thoughts, in detail:

  • There was NO CHEMISTRY between the couple. The one thing I was really looking forward to was romance, because that’s my current favourite genre, and it sorely disappointed me.
  • The acting was not great. I’m mainly talking about Vanessa Hudgens because I could not see her as Brooke. I just.. no.
  • Josh Whitehouse was highly charming as Cole, and he was perfect for the role. He was awesome.
  • The supporting characters were okay. I wasn’t invested in them.
  • I feel like the writers just had a a great overall idea of the plot, but totally messed up when stretching it for a whole movie. I recognized plot points, i.e. certain parts of the story which are the structure of the main plot. But everything in between was just a mess. And sometimes, totally unnecessary.
  • I hated the ending. It was so cringey, I didn’t even properly watch it. I could not handle that level of cheese. It wasn’t even cheesy at the point. It was just cringey.
  • I think Brooke was supposed to have a character arc, but it was totally flat. I saw no character growth, and I also could not see her as a full-fledged character. She just smiled all the time and went around preparing for Christmas.
  • Everything on screen, at all points, was themed. The colours clearly bring in the Christmas vibe. At every point, there’s some green, red and white on the screen. As far as the set is concerned, the movie nailed it.
the-knight-before-christmas-cole-and-brooke
Image credit: Brooke Palmer/Netflix

There is one thing that really bothered me. Brooke, in the beginning of the movie, advises a high school student who recently got dumped by a boy that there is no such thing called true love. She says that it’s a fairytale and, in the real world, we have to concentrate on our lives and not hope for our Prince Charmings. At the end of the movie, after falling in love with Cole, she tells the student the complete opposite. The student moved on from her stupid ex at that point, and was being told that there is true love.

I was waiting for Brooke to say something like “true love will come at some point, and you will know it. Don’t worry about your ex, he’s not the one.” But instead she was basically telling the student to go back to her ex, or go back to being heartbroken? It came off like that. And that got me super annoyed.

Okay so.. skip the movie?

Yes.

I don’t have much to compare with, and it STILL fell short. I’m sure that if I was expecting a good movie, I would have hated it so bad.

I say skip this movie. It’s not worth it. The only good part of the movie is Josh Whitehouse as Cole. If you want only eye-candy, you can go for it. Otherwise, nah.

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What’s your favourite Christmas movie? Have you seen The Knight Before Christmas?

Rafe || what a great romance book

Title: Rafe: A Male Buff Nanny
Author: Rebekah Weatherspoon
Genre: Romance
Category: Adult
Series info: Standalone

Goodreads

I was introduced to this book by Olivia @ Stories For Coffee on Instagram. She highly recommended this, saying that every romance lover should read it. I immediately checked it out, and I got hooked in by the synopsis. A book where the traditional male and female roles are reversed, features people of colour, and has cute kids? Count me in!

SYNOPSIS

Rafe is a live-in nanny, and has been in the job stream for several years. He doesn’t look like a traditional nanny, with the beard and tattoos and the size, but he’s a great one. Rafe has a knack for working with kids and likes helping families function. But he’s currently at a stage in his life where he wants his own family, and is considering switching job streams.

When a Dr. Sloan Copeland is in dire need of a nanny ASAP, and contacts Rafe, he agrees with the idea of working for her for only a year. And he has decided that he will work on getting his own life straight and figuring out things during the time as well. What he wasn’t ready for, was the sizzling attraction to Sloan. And he especially wasn’t ready for it to be reciprocated.

With Rafe living with Sloan and her twin six-year-olds, it doesn’t take long for their chemistry to break down walls and throw out rules. But will they give in and have a future, or will it go up in flames?

MY THOUGHTS

This book was so good, y’all!

First of all, THE CHEMISTRY. I could not get enough of Rafe and Sloan. There was attraction right from the start, and it kept building even though they confessed it and decided to keep things professional. But obviously, that was not meant to last.

Second, the whole plot was really nice. I was hooked onto reading and finding out more right from the start. The romance, Sloan’s issues with her ex-husband, the cute and troublesome twins, and Rafe’s family all brought the plot together very well. I really liked that the plot wasn’t one-dimensional, with the focus on only the romance. There were many other small plot points and anecdotes as well.

What I loved the most was how the two main characters handled their attraction and, later, relationship. It was all done thoughtfully and in a mature manner. I usually see romance plots that are stupid simply to add drama so this was refreshing. I was truly reading about two mature, responsible, and thoughtful adults. Not adults with teenager brains and hormones.

The writing was hella engaging. Right from the first line, I relaxed and dived into the book. In fact, I read the book in ONE sitting. I didn’t feel like taking a break or even looking up. The story had me gripped in that wonderful world and I didn’t want to leave. The writing is the biggest reason why I enjoyed the book so much.

And of course, the twins made the book so much more fun! I absolutely loved reading about Avery and Addison. Smart and troublesome six-year olds with their own personalities and who are not used to just increase the cuteness? Love it.

OVERALL

I absolutely loved the book, and writing this review has made me want to reread it. (That’s bad, I have many books on my TBR that I need to get to.) I loved every single thing about the book, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT for romance lovers. I’d say give it a go even if you’re just meh about romances because it’s a good one.

I can’t wait to read more books from the author, because I need some more of this awesomeness!

I rate this book..

5/5 stars

Long Shot || gives hope & heartbreak

Title: Long Shot
Author: Kennedy Ryan
Genre: Romance
Category: Adult
Series info: Book 1 of Hoops series, can be read as a standalone

I came across this book through a review by Kat @ Reading After Ten. She mentioned that this would be a HARD READ, but that it’s also worth it. I was intrigued, so I added it to my TBR. Once I had enough space and time to deal with emotions, I started reading the book. And I totally agree with Kat.

This book was VERY HARD TO READ. I had to take much needed breaks because my heart couldn’t take more. It’s a very graphic book, and it’s definitely not for the light-hearted or readers who may get triggered. Please read the trigger warnings before picking up the book.

Major trigger warnings: domestic abuse, graphic violence and physical abuse, emotional abuse, gaslighting, rape, stalking, being trapped.

Minor (by amount of representation, not importance) trigger warnings: depression, post-partum depression.

SYNOPSIS

The book follows Iris and August from the time they met. August is a rising football player, and Iris is currently dating August’s nemesis Caleb. They have a connection but it doesn’t matter. But the story isn’t just romance. The book follows Iris more than August, and it shows her journey without rose-tinted glasses.

Iris is a victim of domestic abuse. We see how things between her and her boyfriend escalate, and how hard that situation actually is. How not simple it is to get out of such a situation.

Long Shot is about Iris and August’s love story, but it is also about Iris’s experiences and how she fought and came out on the other side.

MY REVIEW

As I said earlier, this book was hard to read. We read through Iris as she experiences abuse by the hands of her boyfriend Caleb, and it is hard to get through.

“Struggle does not make you weak,” she whispers back. “Struggling against those who hold us is what makes us, over time, stronger than they are. Strong enough to fight back. Strong enough to win.”

I have read books where the main character has been through domestic abuse before, but I don’t think I’ve read one as the character is going through it. And, usually, romance books use such plot points to have a damsel-in-distress who is saved by the male lead and given a happily ever after. Long Shot doesn’t do that.

The domestic abuse in this book wasn’t a plot point used to add depth to Iris. It was plainly written to show that even strong women could get into bad relationships and find it hard to leave. It shows that in this chauvinistic world, a woman’s words aren’t always taken seriously.

I saw how hard Iris fought to leave her relationship, and how things escalated the more she fought. It takes a lot of courage to survive in such a relationship, let alone fight back every day.

“Take them back. Your soul is yours. Your heart is yours. Your body is yours. Yours to keep and yours to share.”

The way the author has written all of it—Iris before everything went bad, to majority of the book when Iris was under abuse, to Iris moving on. It was written brilliantly. And it was written with insight. In the author’s note, Kennedy Ryan mentions that she spoke to many women who have been through domestic abuse so that she can portray it right, and I commend that. There were many facets to the situation which I never thought of before.

Iris’s romance with August was like a beacon of light in the darkness. Not just for Iris, but for me too as a reader. I absolutely loved the romance. August and Iris’s chemistry was sizzling right from the start. From the first conversation, I was rooting for them.

“If you were mine, Iris there would be no doubt what position you’d hold in my life. You’d be center. I’d play you at the five.”

And damn, August was charismatic as heck! I’d have no stipulations to drop everything and fall in love with him. August was the perfect man. I’m glad that the author took time to build his character as well, without just concentrating on Iris.

OVERALL

A romance book which is SO MUCH MORE. If you want to read a well-written book that talks about domestic abuse, pick this one up. All the pain and grief the book will cause you is worth it in the end.

Definitely recommended.

I rate this book..

4/5 stars

www wednesday @ the wordy habitat, all the bookish updates, currently reading, mini book reviews, books to read next.

WWW Wednesday // 9 October 2019

Hey everyone!

I hope y’all have been having a great week so far. I’m having a really chill week because I had Monday and Tuesday off for a festival. I also have tests from Saturday (which I have NOT prepared for), so I’m all ready for the week to turn stressful haha.

Anyway, let’s get to the book talk and updates!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Taking On a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

First of all, I think I’m going into a slump. I just don’t know what to read next, and I’m not overly into reading? Once I pick up a book, I do okay. But picking a book is so hard. I also realized that I’m SO BEHIND on newer fantasy books, and I think it’s because I’m straying away from my favourite genre and that’s making me sad.

Random rants aside, I picked up Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake yesterday. I pushed myself to pick it up just so I’d be done with the series. I remember being super mad after finishing book 2 and finding out that it didn’t end. After book 1, the publishers extended the contract with Blake to 4 books. The story dragged on unnecessarily, which annoyed the heck out of me. Ever since then, I’ve not been into the series as much.

I haven’t read much of the book yet, though. I’ll let y’all know my thoughts next week.


What did you recently finish reading?

In the last week I finished SIX BOOKS!!! This can be attributed to the fact that I got a long weekend with three days off. I spent all of Monday only reading because I had bad cramps. I basically laid on bed and distracted myself by reading. Most of my reads were romance books, which are the easiest to read, so there’s also that.

First book that I finished was That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson. I liked the book. But I didn’t like it that much. My main problem with the book is that the story didn’t feel cohesive. There was so much going on, and each part was good, but the several parts didn’t seem to fit together.

The story was mainly about the main character who is adopted, and finds her birth family by coincidence. The main concepts were adoption, regret/guilt, identity, loneliness, and belongingness. The book also highlighted emotional abuse, racism (intentional and unintentional) and mental healing. There was romance and reconciliation. To add to all that, there was even a mystery element with a possible murder.

Now, you might understand why I felt that the book was a poor mesh of several different plots. Some of them were unnecessary, in my opinion. Because there were so many topics to focus on, every topic felt underdeveloped.

I gave the book 3/5 stars.

After that, I decided to read a light-hearted romance book. I had Tomboy by Avery Flynn on my Kindle library already, so I picked that up. It was so good! Tomboy is now my favourite book of The Hartigans series. I wasn’t fond of book 1, and was just okay with book 2. But book 3 totally made me like it. I especially liked the two main characters. The chemistry was really good too. I gave it 4/5 stars.

Rebel by Marie Lu was my next read. To be honest, I was slightly procrastinating reading it. I REALLY wanted to read it, and I’ve been waiting for more about my favourite characters since 9th grade, but it’s also the LAST BOOK. I will never see these characters again. This book is a proper good bye to the characters, and I wasn’t ready for that.

The anticipation finally won, though. The book was beautiful. I needed it. I’m so glad that it exists.

I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

After Rebel, I got on a romance kick. I had lots of time with a long weekend to read books in one sitting. I read three books in the last two days, y’all. That was some intense reading.

Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon was recommended “to all romance lovers” by Olivia @ storiesforcoffee on Instagram, and I immediately gave it a shot. It was SO GOOD, y’all! It was perfect. I loved the story, the romance, the characters, the dialogues, and especially the chemistry. It’s a perfect romance book to read. I really like how the professional aspect of “dating the nanny” thing was handled. It was all done very well. I even liked the supporting characters. I rated it 5/5 stars.

I don’t know why but whenever I need a new book, but also a comfort read, I go for books with babies. And I’ve found the secret-baby trope VERY interesting. I’ve been into the trope for a long time now, so it’s hard for me to find books with it which sound good. I hit gold with The Baby Bargain by Jennifer Apodaca. It had the right amount of everything. I liked the characters, loved the chemistry, and was engaged by the danger element. It’s in my favs list now. I gave it 4.5/5 stars.

The book I finished most recently was Finding Tomorrow by Kahlen Aymes. It’s book 2 in a series, although it can be read as a standalone. I read Trading Yesterday (book 1) because it has the secret-baby trope, and that book was SAD. It made me cry, y’all. It had sad, desolate, regret, guilt and more desolate vibes. I did want to read about Jensen, though, so I picked up Finding Tomorrow.

I have to say, the author is really onto destroying my heart by torturing the characters. The first book dealt with leukemia, and this one dealt with domestic abuse. Fun, right? Anyway, I really liked the book. I loved Jensen. I loved the kids. Books with kids are always better, somehow. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

Now, I can’t wait for the next two books. In my version of Finding Tomorrow, the release dates for the next two books are written as July and October 2019 but ?? THE BOOKS AREN’T OUT YET???? I saw the author’s website and only the third book is listed as “coming soon”?! I’m dying here. I need those books.


What do you think you’ll read next?

I have absolutely no clue. I may try to pick up something that’s on my fall TBR, but it all depends on my mood.


And that’s all about my bookish updates!

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What book are you currently reading? What did you finish reading recently? Tell me in the comments!

Aurora Rising || kinda disappointing??

aurora rising book cover

Title: Aurora Rising
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Genre: Science Fiction
Category: Young Adult
Series info: Book 1 of Aurora Cycle series

Goodreads

I’ve heard SO MUCH about this book, almost all of them good. The hype went up to a point that I thought this book was the epitome of everything good. I heard that it portrays friendships well. It’s main theme is that a group of mismatched kids are stuck together to go on missions, and they’re required to be heroes. They’re the unlikeliest of heroes.

With all of that, you can assume right that I expected a LOT. And I’m sad to say, that my expectations weren’t met.

SYNOPSIS

Right before his graduation from Aurora Academy, where he’d be able to pick amongst the students for his cadet, Tyler Jones goes out alone into the void to calm his nerves. While there, he finds a lost spaceship from 200 years back and manages to rescue the only surviving passenger, Aurora O’Malley, who is deep asleep in her cryogenic pod.

Tyler is more concerned about the graduation ceremony, though. He gets back to find out that it’s all over and his cadet is made up of students who haven’t been picked by anyone else.

This group will have to get their stuff together and work together, though, because it looks like things with Aurora are much more complicated than they can predict. And they might just have to become heroes because there’s no one else to take over.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

MY REVIEW

I’ll say what you’re thinking. That sounds like an AWESOME concept. A bunch of misfits stuck together who have to save people and become heroes? Whaat.

In reality, though, it wasn’t that glamourous. In fact, I found the camaraderie between the squad members quite forced. That’s supposed to be the best part of the book—watching them interact and become friends. It was okay in some areas, but at times it was just very forced.

For example, they’d be in the middle of a very serious situation and they need to be using their brains to get our ASAP. Instead, they’d volley insults and crack random jokes. It was weird. And highly unrealistic.

CAT B: THIS IS TOTALLY BLOODY SIDEWAYS….
SCARLETT J: I’M AFRAIN I MUST CONCUR WITH MY PUNCHY BUT LEARNED COLLEAGUE.
CAT B: THANKS, ROOMIE.
SCARLETT J: ALL GOOD, GIRL. YOU’VE STILL GOT MY EYELINER BTW.

see what I mean?? They were knee deep in figurative shit and.. they were talking random stuff.

The characters were great, individually. I wasn’t interested in all of them, though. Probably because there was more spotlight on a few of the characters, which meant that we only really got to know them. The others were faded away in the background.

As for the plot, it was actually pretty good. I liked the plot. It was interesting, and perfect for a young adult sci-fi novel. Just the right amount of adventure and cluelessness.

The plot’s awesomeness was brought down a notch by the dialogues though. There was way too much talking and random conversations like what I quoted above. It killed the vibe multiple times and I was FRUSTRATED. So yeah, the writing could have definitely been better.

I loved the world-building. Or in this case, universe-building. I loved the tit-bits we got about all the different races, and how the current political situation is. That was fun to read about. I would have preferred more info, though.

OVERALL

Not very impressed. It was all “meh” towards the end, and I couldn’t wait to finish the book and move on. I am excited for the next book, though. Simply for the one couple I ship.

I rate this book…

3/5 stars

www wednesday @ the wordy habitat, all the bookish updates, currently reading, mini book reviews, books to read next.

WWW Wednesday // 2 October 2019

Happy October y’all!

New month, new fall/autumn vibes for most people around the globe while I’ll be having rainy (and gloomy) vibes, and new experiences to have.

I’ve been eyeing WWW Wednesday blogging meme for a while now, but since I usually update my reading on my Sunday Post, I don’t do it. This week, though, I didn’t update on Sunday because I had too many life things to talk about. And hence, I got the perfect time to do this post!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Taking On a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

There’s only one book in my currently reading pile, surprisingly, because life has been getting in the way with a LOT of events and deadlines. I’m barely keeping up at this point.

That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson is a book that I picked up in a book fair back in February. Many books from that haul are sitting unread on my shelf and I decided that I’m finishing them by the end of the year. And so, I started with this one.

That Girl From Nowhere is a mystery novel, so I’m quite excited to read it because I haven’t read mystery in SO LONG.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says.
‘Not me,’ I reply silently.

Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she’ll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.

As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay…

An emotional story about love, identity and the meaning of family, That Girl From Nowehere is the new novel from the bestselling author of The Ice Cream GirlsThe Woman He Loved Before and My Best Friend’s Girl.


What did you recently finish reading?

Last week saw me finish 3 books.

Hyde & Seek by Layla Frost. I was in the mood for mindless romance so I just picked this one up. It wasn’t great, and I got really annoyed by the male lead multiple times. It was also pretty cliche. The one thing I liked was the friendship squad. They were all really close and supportive and I liked the interactions between them all.

Muffin Top by Avery Flynn. This trilogy by the author focuses on female leads who are not considered conventionally attractive. Muffin Top features a female lead, Lucy, who is “fat” and could care less about it. The male lead, Frankie, goes along with Lucy to her high school reunion as her fake date. Sparks fly as these two truly get to know each other.

I was quite underwhelmed by Muffin Top. I was totally on board with the fat-shaming focus and how it’s hard for curvy women to be considered attractive. I was mostly on-board with the romance. But there was just some aspect missing. I wasn’t in love with the plot or characters, and once I finished the book, I could care less about it.

Educated by Tara Westover. This was the one book from last week which was GOOD. I’ve been reading this book from July, but I was crawling through it because the pace was very slow until 3/4ths of the book. Last week, I was determined to finish it and hence I quickly finished the book. And it made so much of an impact on me.

Educated was a heard read for me. It became harder every time i remembered that it’s a memoir, and everything here is TRUE. And then I would admire the author because she has been through SO MUCH—physically, mentally, and emotionally—and she has managed to find her true self even though there was so much holding her back.

The one thing I can say with certainty is: this book is worth it. This book is worth powering through the slow parts and sticking through the hard parts, even when they were too gruesome and detailed. Knowing Tara Westover’s journey is worth it.


What do you think you will read next?

Probably Rebel by Marie Lu, which released yesterday. I’ve been WAITING for this book, and I have already reread the first three books in preparation to directly dive into Rebel.

After that, I might read Five Dark Fates by Kandare Blake. This is also a new release, and it’s the fourth book in the Three Dark Crowns series. I can’t wait to finish this series lol. Ever since they extended it from two books to four, and the author is hastily dragging on the story, I’m not very interested in it. I just want to know the ending at this point.


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Tell me updates about your reading! What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish? And do leave a link to your WWW post if you’ve posted one 🙂

the sunday post header

The Sunday Post // cheat days and good books

Happy Sunday everyone!

I hope you’ve been having a great day so far. I’m spending my Sunday trying to study for my tests tomorrow. The first test tomorrow is on Advanced Computer Architecture which has tons of complicated diagrams and while I have photographic memory, there are just too many diagrams to keep track of perfectly.

I’m taking a short break from studying to write this post. My week has been pretty uneventful but there are a few things I can update you on.

The Sunday Post is a weekly blogging meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

WHAT I DID

I tried out VSCO editing again! I actually tried it once a couple years back but I just couldn’t figure it out, and it wasn’t working with my style. I also mainly took VSCO for Instagram, and my style was VERY DIFFERENT back then.

I was seeing random videos on YouTube and saw this one on VSCO girls. I did not know that that’s a term and I still don’t know what it means, but the video’s pictures got me wanting to try VSCO again.

Since I was still completely not sure on how to use the app, I turned to Pinterest for “editing recipes”, which are basically some specific settings to get a kind of edit. I even made a board with all the recipes I like which use the free filters. I tried out a LOT of edits, even asking my friends for random pictures and editing them. After a few days of trials, I can day that I’ve now grasped how to use it and I’ve figured out what I like.

While VSCO is good, I don’t think VSCO is for my current Instagram theme. I do want to try out a whole theme with the app, but not just yet. I’ll probably attempt it once I get a new phone with a better camera. My current cam is… not great.

champaca bookstore picture edit with VSCO
One of the pictures that I edited when trying out VSCO.

My best friends were craving pizza last night and begged me to take a cheat day from my gluten free diet to have pizza with them. It’s been a long time since I last had food with gluten, and my best friends and I only have pizza with each other (it’s kind of like a tradition), so I broke my diet for the night. I did have lesser pizza than them and had rice as my dinner, but it’s still a break from my diet. I don’t regret it at all.

WHAT I READ

I read three books this week. It was a pretty good week, considering I was still blogging, going to college everyday, and playing League of Legends.

Girls of Paper and Fire book cover

The first book I read last week was Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. Not gonna lie, I was IMPRESSED. The world building, the characters, the circumstances and the relationships—all of them were great. At some points the book did feel a little slow sometimes but that’s okay.

I rated the book 4/5 stars and not a total 5 because the ending was disappointing. Anticipation was built up right from the start for the ending and it just fell flat. I’ll write a review for this book pretty soon, so watch out for that.

Aurora Rising book cover

My second read of the week was Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I actually started this book MONTHS back in a bookstore+cafe. I kept wanting to go back and read it entirely in the hardback copy, which was beautiful, but I couldn’t find the time to go. I finally caved and read the ebook this week.

This book… has it’s pluses and minuses. I wasn’t very impressed by it, but I did like parts of it. I enjoyed the story concept and every individual character. The whole concept of this series is that a ragtag bunch of kids are put together in a squad and circumstances require them to become heroes together. The squad is the thing that I’m most conflicted about. I like that they start to form friendships and get along but I also felt like the camaraderie was forced in dialogue. I’ll explain more when I write a complete review on this book.

My last read of the week, which I finished last night, was Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan. I was introduced to this book by Kat @ Reading After Ten. Her review of the book intrigued me. While I got the book a while back, I didn’t it pick it up until this week because Kat mentioned that it is a hard read. I wanted to be in the right frame of mind to read it.

Now that I’ve finished the book, I agree with Kat. This book is a hard read, but it is totally worth it. Our female lead Iris goes through a LOT in this book and all of it is shown in raw truth, not sugar-coated at all. Kennedy Ryan interviewed multiple women who have survived through domestic abuse and has done them justice by showing the hard truths. I say read the book, if not for the romance, for Iris’s journey.

I will definitely be writing a review on this book as well. I have to.


I read faster that I can review, and it’s definitely going to be a problem with the books I read this week. I’ll do my best to review these ASAP.

And that’s all I have to say this week. I will see you in my next post. Have a great week!

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How was your week? What did you do? What books did you read? Tell me in the comments!

The Poppy War || gruesome and compelling

Title: The Poppy War
Author: R. F. Kuang
Genre: Fantasy
Category: Adult
Series info: Book 1 of The Poppy War series

Goodreads

There has been so much hype for this book online since the time it released. I added it to my list and was waiting for the paperback’s price to go down so I can own it as a physical copy. Sadly, it never went down.*

I finally caved and got the ebook just in time to participate in the Autumn is for Asia read-a-long happening on Instagram. The Poppy War is the buddy read book for September, and it gave me the motivation to finally read this tome.

*it’s quite expensive

SYNOPSIS

The book follows Rin, a very determined and ambitious girl. She is an orphan working for a family in a small town, who have taken her in. When they decide to marry her off in exchange for social standing and money, she vows to get out of that town and change her life.

Rin studies hard for the kingdom-wide exam Keju, and manages to ace it, getting a free ride to the best university. But her life’s trials don’t stop there. While studying at Sinegard, she learns more about herself and her kingdom, and she up-skills herself. Rin discovers that she has an affinity for shamanism, and she begins to explore her gift while questioning everything she believes in.

The kingdom is readying itself for the third Poppy War against The Federation who are across the sea, and Rin’s powers might be just the thing which could tip the scales in their favour.

MY REVIEW

This book is HUGE. It’s a literal tome. I am glad that I read it as an ebook because I don’t think I would have been able to read as fast with the physical book, especially since I wouldn’t be able to carry it everywhere.

Since it is big, it obviously a LOT of content inside. There’s so much that happens in the book. I procrastinated writing this review because there is SO MUCH to talk about. This one book contains THREE DIFFERENT PHASES of Rin’s life.


She never wanted to think about Tikany. She wanted to pretend that she’d never lived there—no, that it had never existed. Because if she could just erase her past, then she could write herself into whoever she wanted to be in the present. Student. Scholar. Soldier. Anything except who she used to be.


I will not lie, this book was hard to read. There’s gore, graphic descriptions of death, massacres, sexual assault/rape, and drug addiction. At times it was so hard to read through it that I closed the book and picked up a lighter book to give myself relief. My heart ached. The author doesn’t shy away from writing the true horrors of war, down to detail. That’s brilliant in writing, but hard to read.

The pacing of the book didn’t feel right. I was super into it in the beginning when things were happening in real time, and in the middle of the book it suddenly slowed down a lot. It not only slowed, but somehow we skipped YEARS in a few paragraphs. For a long time I thought Rin was around 17 but turns out that she was 19. Her growth and change of time wasn’t shown, it was just addressed in a few short sentences in relation to her growth in shamanism.

Being a really big book, with a lot to cover, I understand that not everything can be shown plainly. But I would have appreciated it because I was left confused a few times. Maybe it’s because I usually don’t read adult fantasy books like this one. It was weird that some pointless times were given more coverage than some really important things which were left out as “obvious”.

I really liked reading about Rin. She’s our main character who is determined to make something of herself and be important. She has big dreams and works tirelessly to make them come true. Rin is an underdog but works VERY hard to come up, especially in university.

The best part about Rin is that she’s very flawed. She’s not a perfect character with perfect beliefs and morality. She can be clueless, hard-headed, afraid and even disbelieving sometimes. But she pushes through because she has to move forward. The one thing that drives her is to be best, and she does ANYTHING to get there.

She had to make her memory perfect. She stopped sleeping.

A majority of the book takes place when Rin is in Sinegard university. The most interesting part was when Rin trained in shamanism. She had to question her beliefs, everything she’s heard and been told, and rewire it to believe in gods and their powers. I especially liked the debate about gods, which was given quite a bit of attention. Considering that I’m agnostic and I question the exact things, it was wonderful to read.


Jiang reconfigured Rin’s perception of what was real. Through demonstrations of impossible acts, he recalibrated the way she approached the material universe.

It was easier because she was so willing to believe. She fit these challenges to her conceptions of reality into her mind without too much trauma from adjustment.


The phase of Rin’s life which took up the most of the book is during war. Rin joins Cike, a group of assassins who work for the Empress. Initially, she’s insulted and embarrassed for joining “a group of crazies”, but eventually she finds her place.

This is the part of the book which was the hardest to read, for me. There’s so much gore, and there are several detailed descriptions of the horrors of war. I liked that it’s realistic, in terms of how bad war is, but I also found it very hard to read with a straight mind. I had to take multiple pauses.

Through the book, the author also makes several on-point observations on war and questions the nature of it. I found these things very interesting to read, because I never truly thought about war and all that it is associated with. We the readers come to all these realizations about war through Rin, as she begins to truly open her eyes and understand the causes and consequences of war. I definitely would have not thought of this quickly if it wasn’t directly written in the book.

Warfare was about absolutes. Us or them. Victory or defeat. There was no middle way. There was no mercy. No surrender.

It was, simply, what happened when one race decided that the other was insignificant. The Federation had massacred Golyn Niis for the simple reason that they did not think of the Nikara as human.

The one thing that I did not like in the book was the underdevelopment of multiple characters. The book showcases and develops the few characters in spotlight but almost completely ignores the side characters. I get to know Rin and other spotlighted characters a lot but I barely know anything about the side characters.

OVERALL

The Poppy War is a book that you should take your time reading. It’s not a fast-paced book with many interesting twists, but it’s a damn impressive book about war and an underdog character who rises.

The author has BRILLIANTLY weaved a full-fledged world inspired by Chinese history. The book is definitely worth the read.

“Great danger is always associated with great power. The difference between the great and the mediocre is that the great are willing to take that risk.”

I rate this book..

4/5 stars